Walmart offers unlimited talk and text for $45 per month: how it compares

Walmart storeEven though Walmart already sells phones and service from every major cell phone company and has a collection of brands like Straight Talk, which runs on Verizon, and Common Cents, which runs on Sprint; the company didn't have a house brand. That changed this week with the introduction of Walmart Family Mobile, a new post-paid wireless service that offers unlimited talk and text as well as rollover data -- without a contract or credit check.

The Walmart Wireless Mobile plan will be available in Walmart stores soon, but don't go looking for Walmart towers to pop up across the country, since the service will be provided by T-Mobile. The plans are paid for at the end of a billing period, a move made by Walmart to attract consumers who perceive these post-paid plans as offering better phones and better value.

Walmart Family Mobile will offer one line for $45 that includes unlimited minutes and texts as well as 100MB of data, which can be carried over to the next month. Users can purchase additional data at $10 for 200MB, $25 for 500MB or $40 for 1GB; and the data packages can be shared between other family users. The Walmart Family Mobile plan allows the addition of extra unlimited lines at $25 per month.

The service will launch with five phones ranging from $35 for a base phone to $249 for the Motorola Cliq XT, an Android powered smart phone, which costs $329 on T-Mobile with a contract.

What's the catch? Well, if you like to use data you can get better deals from many of the major carriers with 2GB to 5GB data plans ranging from $25-$30 a month, but those carriers don't allow you to carry over the data from month to month or share it with family members.

Also, while there is no contract, you won't be able to transfer a Walmart Family Wireless phone to any other network -- even T-Mobile.

Even with these restrictions on data use and having the phone locked to the network, families who text and talk a lot may be able to save in the long run. According to T-Mobile and Walmart executives, the Walmart family plan will save users more than $1,200 a year.

You can see a comparison of the monthly charges for Unlimited Talk and Text plans in the chart below. Due to the complexities of cell phone plans, it is difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison of all features but this will give you a good idea of the cost differences.

Service Unlimited Talk and TextBase Price 2 linesContractCost for Addtl LinePrice 3 LinesPrice 4 linesPrice 5 LinesPrice of Data
Walmart Family Mobile$70No$25$95$120$145$10 for 200MB, $25 for 500MB or $40 for 1GB (Shared)
T-Mobile Even More Plus for Families (Talk+Text)$100No$30$130$160$190Unlimited Must Upgrade to $140/mo plan (Shared)
Verizon Unlimited Talk & Text$150Yes$50$200$250$3005GB $30/Mo (Per line)
AT&T FamilyTalk Nation Plan w/ $30 Unlimited Txt plan$150Yes$50$200$250$3002GB $25/Mo (Per line)
Sprint Simply Everything Family$190Yes$90$280$370$460Unlimited (Shared)

If you are OK with the phone selection and don't use much data, it looks like the Walmart Family Mobile plan will be a good deal; but if you have heavy data users or want the latest phones, you will need to look elsewhere. The Walmart Family Mobile website will be available later this week with more information.
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